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Campaigners denied right to access military base for ‘inspection’

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament warns of growing evidence that US and British governments are planning to put nukes at RAF Lakenheath

PEACE campaigners were blocked from carrying out an “inspection” on Saturday at a military base where it is believed the US and British governments plan to install nuclear weapons.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) formed a “Citizens’ Weapons Inspection” (CWI) team to attempt to enter RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.

Lakenheath is only nominally an RAF base. In reality, it is operated by the United States Air Force (USAF).

CND said that there is growing evidence that the USAF is preparing to deploy B61-12 guided nuclear bombs there as part of a mass upgrade of its nuclear infrastructure in Europe.

The campaign group wrote to the base’s commander on September 14 warning an inspection would take place.

At the last minute, they received a letter from the RAF denying them access – so they instead staged a protest at the base.

The rally was one of hundreds taking place nationwide and internationally to mark the International Day of Peace on September 21 and the United Nations International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which takes place tomorrow.

In its letter to CND, the RAF said Lakenheath was a “busy, sensitive, operational base.”

It stated that there was a “longstanding UK and Nato policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons at a given location.”

The RAF claimed that such ambiguity “reduces the risk of deliberate nuclear use by those seeking a first strike advantage.”

CND condemned the “lack of transparency and oversight of nuclear weapons deployments that have no democratic mandate or popular support.”

Chairman Tom Unterrainer said: “By refusing access to our CWI team the UK authorities are happily going along with US foreign policy – which flies in the face of the will of the British people.

“The majority of the public don’t want these US nuclear weapons here, so where is the vote in Parliament? Where is the democratic process?

“The argument that secrecy is needed for safety and strategic ambiguity is a laughable excuse for what is actually a denial of transparency and oversight.

“We know the base is being readied for the B61-12. We know they are doubling the amount of F-35 jets to be stationed there.”

He said it was clear that in the event of nuclear war “Lakenheath is going to be on the target list.”

CND vice-chairwoman Sophie Bolt said: “Today’s action shines a spotlight on this nuclear base and the efforts to keep what is really going on out of the public eye.

“Under Nato nuclear doctrine, the F-35 and B61-12 are more likely to be used in a first-strike attack than a retaliatory one.

“The British public have no say in their siting here, but we’ll be on the receiving end in any nuclear attack.

“Instead of allowing this to go ahead, the UK government must immediately block this deployment and use its influence to advance the possibility of peace and disarmament.”

Peace activists in Yorkshire on Saturday targeted another US base, RAF Menwith Hill, which is run by the US National Security Agency.

The base gathers military, political and economic information from US spy satellites.

In the small Pennine town of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire’s Calder Valley, a crowd gathered as CND and supporters provided music, songs, poetry and speeches in a Day of Peace.

According to a science-based “nuclear clock,” the world’s risk of nuclear Armageddon is now assessed at 90 seconds from midnight.

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